On October 27, 2002, the Argentinean María Marta García Belsunce was assassinated with five shots to the head in her home, in a gated community on the outskirts of Buenos Aires. Twenty years later, this crime, one of the femicides that has shocked Argentine society the most, remains unpunished. A court decided this Friday to acquit by majority the defendant Nicolás Pachelo, a former neighbor of country Carmel, of the murder of the 50-year-old sociologist. However, he was sentenced to nine years in prison for robbery.
The prosecutor’s hypothesis—who had requested life imprisonment for Pachelo—was that the defendant had entered García Belsunce’s house to rob with the complicity of two guards and at that moment had met the sociologist and murdered her.
The Oral Criminal Court 4 of San Isidro rejected this hypothesis and exonerated Pachelo of the murder of García Belsunce. The acquittal ruling, which had been leaked to local media days before, leaves the crime blameless. “Shame,” shouted family members present in the courtroom after the sentence was read.
It is the third trial that investigated the murder of the sociologist. The first sentenced his widower, Carlos Carrascosa, to life imprisonment, but he was acquitted after seven and a half years in prison. The second condemned the Belsunce family for concealment.
García Belsunce and Carrascosa, a retired merchant marine who had made his fortune as a financier, had been married for 30 years. The day of her murder, the woman had played tennis with a friend and was waiting at home for her masseuse. Carrascosa found her lying in the half-filled bathtub and her head was bloody. Two doctors certified that a blow had caused her death and a funeral home signed the death certificate. She was buried victim of a domestic accident.
But exactly 20 years ago, on December 2, 2002, the result of the autopsy revealed a very different version from the one known: Belsunce had five bullet wounds to the skull.
The debate of this last trial lasted five months and had Carrascosa for the first time as a witness. In the first he was the main defendant and in the second he was prevented from testifying because he considered that he could hinder the investigation.
“I’ve been waiting for this moment for 20 years to be in front of my wife’s murderer,” Carrascosa said at one of the trial hearings. “What keeps me alive is knowing who killed her. I no longer have anything to do in life, ”added the widower while he pointed his finger at Pachelo, who was looking at him with crossed arms from the defendant’s dock. The defendant, imprisoned since 2018, always pleaded not guilty and this Friday celebrated his acquittal.
This feminicide has been one of the most emblematic of the South American country. The case came to the small screen through Netflix with the documentary Carmel: Who killed María Marta? This Friday’s ruling returns the investigation to the starting point. After twenty years already, the hopes of finding out who the murderer was vanish.
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